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Over 1 million Armenians Exterminated
The UMD Center for Genocide, Holocaust, and Human Rights Studies will present a program entitled The Armenian Genocide at 3 p.m. on Friday, November 30 in the Library Rotunda. The speakers will be Lou Ann Matossian, program director of the Cafesjian Family Foundation and external affairs director of the Armenian Cultural Organization of Minnesota along with Taner Akçam, renowned Turkish scholar and author of the widely acclaimed A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility. Akcam teaches at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.
The Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide is widely acknowledged to have been the first true genocide of the twentieth century. Of an estimated pre-war population of 1.8 to 2.4 million in the six eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire, approximately 1.2 to 1.7 million Armenians were exterminated in government organized deportations and massacres in towns and villages strewn across Eastern Anatolia. Under the pretext of disloyalty, the Ottoman government charged that Armenians were siding with the Russian Empire and stipulated that the deportations were born out of the necessity to preserve national security. The general date given to the beginning of the genocide is April 24, 1915 where Turkish authorities ordered the arrest of 250 Armenian intellectuals in the capital of Constantinople, most of whom were killed. Deportations subsequently began in May where the Turkish military was utilized to uproot Armenians from their homes, and force them to march for hundreds of miles, depriving them of food and water, to concentration camps established in what is now present-day Syria. Massacres were indiscriminate of age or gender and widespread cases of rape and sexual abuse against women and children were commonplace. The Armenian Genocide is said to be the second-most studied case of genocide. The successor to the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Turkey does not accept the deaths as the results of a systematic plan to destroy the Armenians. In recent years, it has faced repeated calls to accept the events as genocide. To date, twenty-one countries have officially recognized it as genocide as most Western scholars and historians accept this view. The majority of the survivors and their descendants are what now comprise the bulk of the Armenian Diaspora.
Detail of the photo: "The March From Kharpert." Taken by a German businessman from his hotel window in 1915, this photograph captures the image of Armenian men being marched off under armed guard to the prison in Mezre. At the prison they were tortured to death.
A Shameful Act, New York Times review by Gary J. Bass
A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, by Taner Akcam, is a Turkish blast against this national denial. A historian and former leftist activist now teaching at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota, Akcam is often described as the first Turkish scholar to call the massacres genocide, and his impressive achievement here is to shine fresh light on exactly why and how the Ottoman Empire deported and slaughtered the Armenians. He directly challenges the doubters back home, basing his powerful book on Turkish sources in the old Ottoman script—including the failed Ottoman war crimes tribunals held after World War I. Although he bolsters his case with material from the American, British and German archives, he writes that the remaining Ottoman records are enough to show that the ruling party's central committee "did deliberately attempt to destroy the Armenian population."
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